Hab 3:17-19 Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds' feet, And makes me walk on my high places. (nasb)
A common phrase I remember hearing many times in my life was, "when all hell breaks loose." Does it ever feel like all of hell has broken loose in your life and everything seems to be chaos wherever you turn?
Every time I read the local and world news I see the effects of calamity all around us. Father's killing their children, natural disasters such as the horrendous devastation we have seen in the country of Haiti and to its people, and the seemingly relentless famine throughout the world. It is very easy to get caught up in all the devastation and turmoil as we go through each and every day and become distracted from the joy of the Lord.
These verses in chapter three of the book of Habakkuk offer us a different perspective to the subject of turmoil and difficulty in our life. Rather than allowing our difficult circumstances to cause us to question the existence of a mighty God, we shall exult and rejoice in Him during these times. Exultation during times of suffering is quite foreign in our culture. We have been so programmed to think that God is there to make our life full of joy and happiness by eliminating hardship rather than walking along side of us during it. We often forget that the entire Bible is filled with men and women of God who, during much turmoil in their life, continue to give their exultation to the Lord.
To exult means to find extreme happiness or elation. To be jubilant and full of rejoicing. To exult in something reminds me of the phrase to "leap for joy." All of the great suffering aside, there are so many little things that also seem to steal our joy and cause us to blame God and completely put aside rejoicing. Conflicts at work, difficulties in our marriage or with our children, even a long line of traffic sometimes gets us to be negative and frustrated. I am guilty myself of being frustrated many times throughout the day in little things that mean absolutely nothing but steal my joy of the Lord and cause me to grumble rather than exult in the Lord.
So, how do we exult in the Lord daily even when it seems difficult to find God, let alone rejoice in Him?
Rom 5:1-5 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (nasb)
The first step I believe is to have peace with God. Romans 5:1 says having been justified by faith we have peace with God. If we truly understand our sinful condition before a righteous and holy God and know the grace that He shows us by justifying us through Christ, the natural response is to rejoice in Him. Through faith alone God has justified us. He has made us holy and blameless before Him and we now are able to come into his presence forgiven and righteous ourselves because of the cross. Because of this we exult in Him. Now, onto tribulations and difficulties...
When our heart is focused on Him and on our righteousness that has been granted to us through faith, we are able to see tribulation as a way to strengthen our faith in Him rather than detract from it. Tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance proven character, and proven character hope... The thing that most defines a believer in Christ from one who does not believe is hope. There is hope for the followers of Christ. Hope in things present and things to come. Hope that God is good and will prosper us. Hope that He will turn all things to good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Hope that we have an inheritance in Him for a future glory that we haven't seen yet. Hope, hope, hope. Without the hope in God we are almost certain to find the daily frustrations, the natural disasters, and the increased famine and hardships as hopeless.
God doesn't promise us that our cupboards will be full, that our bank account will have money in it, or that we will live to be a ripe old age. But he does promise us that He will always be with us, (Deut 31:6), that he will provide for all that we need, (Phil 4:18-19), and that He will fill us with joy and peace so that we will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:13)
God is good, period. But in order to bathe in His goodness when we get completely frustrated and all of hell seems to be breaking loose around us, we need to make Him the most important thing in our life. I pray that you ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit today and give you a heart of exultation to Him that results in His glorious praise. Peace doesn't occur because of our efforts, but because He grants us the Holy Spirit in our lives to give us the strength to make it happen.
Rely on His strength to do a good work in your life and turn your heart and praise to Him.